Planning practice - daily rhythm, weekly rhythm




During your student years in particular, it’s worth dividing your practice into periods. You can plan these as periods of weeks to a year, or even years ahead. Practice periods (of, for example, a month) can often be linked to previous exercises, improved attributes, and other things that you have learned. This type of long-term practice fosters development and enables your skills to improve as desired. Healthy, varied practice that exercises the whole body also guarantees sufficient general resistance alongside that conferred by ‘instrument-specific’ practice. The cornerstones of practice are continuity and systematic planning.

Progressive practice gradually increases endurance and prepares you for more demanding competition and performance situations. You can’t always practice harder and play more demanding pieces. It’s better to draw up a varied programme and ensure that you make any necessary changes as you go along. The main aim of planning your practice is to get your body to make constant repairs and thereby achieve better form. As your form improves, your new form will become the normal condition that your body tries to reach as it seeks balance. If you are studying to become a professional musician, you will need to have a well-planned practice programme, so that both your form and skills can develop as your repertoire becomes more challenging, and loading and playing becomes more demanding.

Daily rhythm/weekly rhythm

Practice loading can be measured on a scale (loading index) of 0–5 (the numbers don’t denote hours):

0 = rest day
1 = very light
2 = light
3 = medium heavy
4 = heavy
5 = very heavy

You should estimate your total daily loading and log it in your practice diary. Calculate your weekly loading total by adding together your daily loading index scores. Your weekly rhythm should include light, medium heavy, and heavy weeks.

Rest days are not shown in the example weeks, as different people need different amounts of rest depending on their instrument and individual make-up. You may need a few rest days per month, but once a week may be too frequent if you want to improve your basic form. You must consider your own need for rest days by listening to your body and adapting your requirements to your study programme.

Standard practice period – daily rhythm

During a standard period, you should aim for volume-based practice and balanced loading.

The high-volume loading days will be in week 3 or 4, depending on your weekly rhythm.
We recommend a four-week rhythm during a standard practice period:
week 1 light,
week 2 medium heavy,
week 3 heavy,
week 4 a lighter,
recovery week.

You may schedule up to four heavy practice days (loading index 4) for volume weeks (a heavy week), while 2–3 medium heavy days plus, if necessary, even 1–2 rest days will suffice for light weeks.

Every fourth practice week should be a recovery week! Week 4 should be lighter than week 1 in terms of loading. The tiny blood vessel (capillary) networks that transport energy to your muscles need time to renew themselves every fourth week. If you want to improve your overall muscle condition, you have to give your body time to renew and repair its capillaries, otherwise loading will eventually lead to overtraining.